On 12 December 2013, the Senate referred the Reserve Bank Amendment
(Australian Reconstruction and Development Board) Bill 2013 to the
Economics Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 26 March
The Senate subsequently extended the reporting date on four occasions:
first to 25 June 2014, then to 28 August and 4 December 2014 and finally
to 31 March 2015.
The bill is a private senators' bill co-sponsored by Senators John Madigan
and Nick Xenophon. It proposes to amend the Reserve Bank Act 1959 to
establish an Australian Reconstruction and Development Board (ARDB) of the
Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The ARDB would have the task of forming and
implementing a rural reconstruction and development policy.
Bills containing similar proposals were introduced into the House of
Representatives and the Senate during the 43rd Parliament. They lapsed,
however, as a result of the prorogation of the Parliament that occurred prior
to the 2013 federal election.
The bill before this committee contains some drafting changes that
differentiate it from its precursor bills.
Conduct of the inquiry
The committee advertised the inquiry on its website and in The
Australian. It also wrote to relevant stakeholders and interested parties
inviting submissions. The committee received 145 submissions, which are
listed at Appendix 1. On 18 March 2015, the committee held a public
hearing in Canberra. A list of witnesses is at Appendix 3.
The committee thanks all the individuals and organisations that provided
a submission to this inquiry and who gave oral evidence.
Consideration of the bill by legislative
When examining a bill or draft bill, the committee takes into account any
relevant comments published by the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny
of Bills. The committee has also considered the comments on the bill made by
the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (PJCHR). The findings of the
two legislative scrutiny committees are outlined briefly below.
Senate Scrutiny of Bills Committee
The Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills assesses
legislative proposals against a set of accountability standards that focus on
the effect of proposed legislation on individual rights, liberties and
obligations, and on parliamentary propriety. The Scrutiny of Bills Committee
considered the bill in its ninth Alert Digest of 2013. It made no
comment on the bill.
Parliamentary Joint Committee on
One of the functions of the PJCHR is to examine bills for compatibility
with human rights, and to report to both Houses of the Parliament on that
The PJCHR considered the bill in its first report of the 44th Parliament.
The PJCHR sought further information from Senators Madigan and Xenophon
regarding how the power to terminate the appointment of the RBA's
representative on the proposed ARDB would be compatible with the right to work.
The bill provides that the RBA representative must be a member of the
Reserve Bank Board or a staff member of the Reserve Bank Service.
Under the bill as currently drafted, the RBA Governor may terminate the
appointment of the RBA's representative at any time. The removal of an
individual which is the RBA representative on the proposed ARDB, however, would
not appear to affect his or her service on the Reserve Bank Board or employment
at the RBA, whichever is applicable.
Structure of this report
This report comprises five chapters including this introductory chapter
Chapter 2—provides background information about the current role
of the RBA and of the former Commonwealth Development Bank and an explanation
of the proposed ARDB;
Chapter 3—discusses the challenges facing regional Australia and how
the proposed legislative changes are intended to meet these challenges;
Chapter 4—identifies the main issues that arose when considering
the proposed ARDB, including the approach to rural development adopted by
various governments and how the proposed ARDB relates to the RBA's current role;
Chapter 5—presents the committee's findings and recommendations.
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